We’re early in the season and though we have a small sample size to validate some of the data we’ve seen so far, we are already seeing some young players explode and be promoted up the lineups. Making some early additions to your lineup is a difficult task as it correlates with dropping player(s) you drafted with aspirations for success. Keep in mind that these decisions made early in the year are often the differences between playoff and non-playoff teams in season long formats.
In 2019-2020 we saw Dominik Kubalik, Quinn Hughes, Victor Olofsson, Cale Makar and Elvis Merzlikins make big impacts as rookies in the NHL. Not to be forgotten were a number of sophomore players which made a leap with 1 year of play under their belt. We saw some overlooked transitioning players from the KHL and veterans in new scenarios made big impacts for their respective clubs. If you played your cards right and took some chances odds are you ended up with 2-3 players who fit that bill on your roster, even if only for a period of the season.
Now into 2021 here are a few players we recommend to you for a variety of reasons across multiple positions…
- Alexander Romanov D – Montreal Canadiens – 29% owned
- 3GP 1G, 1A, 9 SOG, 9 HIT, 6 BLK
Alexander Romanov is a 21 y/o rookie defensemen drafted in the 2nd round (38th overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft who has gotten his first chance at the NHL level. He’s already receive high praise from his coach Claude Julien and earned an opportunity to play along side Shea Weber on the top defensive pairing for Montreal. Romanov has seen time on the power play for Montreal and notched his first goal against Edmonton. Leagues which use some peripheral stats such as hits and blocked shots boost the value of a player like Romanov who has contributed in both categories.
- Kirill Kaprizov LW – Minnesota Wild – 78% owned
- 1G, 3A, +3 1 GWG
Kaprizov has taken off like a rocket to start the 2020-2021 season and chances are you’ve already missed your chance to add him given his 78% ownership level. The 24y/o Russian winger was drafted in the 5th round by Minnesota and has already made his mark in the NHL with an overtime GWG and assist. Kaprizov is playing on Minnesota’s top line and PP unit and is developing chemistry with veteran winger Zach Parise.
- Pavel Buchnevich RW – New York Rangers – 27% owned
- 2G, 1A, +2, GWG, 5 SOG
A lot of the pre-season media coverage in New York centered around the team drafting Alexis Lafreniere, and rightfully so. While many fans were focused on the exciting career ahead for Lafreniere they may have overlooked Buchnevich; a 25 y/o winger who turned in a great second half to the 2019/20 season. He is playing on the Rangers top line along side Mika Zibenejad and Chris Kreider where he should continue to see plenty of opportunities on Corsica Hockey’s #2 ranked L1.
- Jeff Carter C,LW – Los Angeles Kings – 15% owned
- 1G, 3A, +2, 11 SOG
Jeff Carter is the epitome of a veteran NHL player who brings leadership and a strong two way game to the rink day in day out. Drafted back in 2003 by Philedelphia, Carter is entering his 17th NHL season and realistically has nothing left to prove in the NHL on a team with very low expectations for the 2020-2021 season. Surprisingly Carter has come out flying scoring two points in each of his first two games of the NHL season. In formats which are limited to scoring categories Carter is an intriguing short term add as he’s found some chemistry with recently acquired Andreas Athanasiou who came over from Edmonton this off season. Carter plays L2 for LA and appears on the 2nd PP unit. This isn’t a player to trade for or to be rostered for an entire season, but riding the hot hand never hurt anyone!
- Anthony Cirelli C – Tampa Bay Lightning – 58% owned
- 1G, 2A, +3, 7SOG, 2 HIT
One of my favorite young NHL players on a heavy upside team is 23y/o Etobicoke, Ontario native Anthony Cirelli. Cirelli became much better known at the NHL level in the last two years for Tampa Bay after being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 NHL draft. He is a career +67 and adds great peripheral statistics for GM’s whos leagues include hits, SHP and the afore mentioned +/- category. With Nikita Kucherov out for the 2020/21 season Tampa Bay has shown that it will not be shy to shuffle the lines in attempt to find fits for its skill forwards playing together. With Steven Stamkos shifting to the wing at this juncture of his career and Brayden Point solidified as the #1 Center for Tampa Bay, Cirelli will find himself in favorable line matching scenarios where opposing teams ice their best ‘shut down’ lines against Point, Stamkos and Palat.
- Mackenzie Blackwood G – New Jersey Devils – 66% owned
- 1W, 1.38 GAA, 954 SV%
Expectations are admittedly at an all time low for the Devils franchise in 2020/21. While they may boast some great young talent in Jack Hughes, Nikita Gusev, Nico Hischier and Miles Wood the team lacks a strong veteran leadership outside of PK Subban and Kyle Palmieri. With Corey Crawford retiring from the NHL after taking a leave from the team just prior to the start of the season Blackwood is now the clear cut starter for the team. Drafted in the 2nd round, 42nd overall in 2015 the 26 y/o goaltender from Thunder Bay, Ontario started the season with a tough test in back to back games against the Boston Bruins. Blackwood faced 28 and 37 shots in those two games and was the reason for his team hanging in with the perennial juggernaut Bruins.
- Cam Talbot G – Minnesota Wild – 54% owned
- 2W, 2.24 GAA, 925 SV%
Are you happy to see Cam Talbot have another chance in the NHL as a starting goaltender? You should be, Talbot has had some great years to his credit as a backup in 2014-2015 with the Rangers and again in 2016-2017 for the Oilers where he proved he could handle a heavy workload and backstop a team through adversity in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Following his departure from Edmonton Talbot played a few games for Philadelphia in 2019 before signing a 1-yr deal with the Calgary Flames where he won 2 playoff games for the rival of his former team, the Edmonton Oilers. Talbot has gotten off to a strong start in 2020/21 and Minnesota has looked to him and his experience with Alex Stalock on the IR with no clear timetable to return from what the Wild are listing as an UBI. Talbot will be able to provide a lot of games played for GM’s picking him up where he is available in just under half of leagues.